Monday, June 24, 2013

"The air of summer was sweeter than wine."
~ Longfellow

(Lake Tahoe - this photo taken by the Tall Texan) 

It has been a nearly perfect week-end.  I took the motorcycle safety course.  LOVED it.  Am as sore as can be.  I learned the hard way how much I have to do in terms of some serious strength training. The time will pass anyway so might as well dive deeply into a healthier and stronger way of living while I float on the stream of the clock's tide!   Back to the gym it is for some weights and other stuff (while it all still hurts and I can clearly remember which muscles are so weak).

'What else?' you ask. Sold my lovely, dependable Galahad (2006 Subaru) for a Miata convertible roadster that is a mess!  Will be putting (if all the stars are correctly aligned) an exhaust system into it this coming week end. But running lights need to be fixed (all together missing right now), there is no a/c and never will be, seats need to be replace,  some Bondo, sanding and paint. Alright I admit, it needs almost everything but it does run. I am anxious to begin this project, with the tutoring and help of the Tall Texan...assuming he will tolerate a kind of aging apprentice.  In a few days I'll be 65.  It's time I knew something about what makes the automobile GO.  Am also searching for a used bike (1980 something like a Honda / Suzuki / Yamaha 250).  Eventually something similar in an ATV.  I don't need a 'rock climber' but sure-footed transportation on mountain paths (and sandy beaches etc) would be a good thing.  I rather love being a desert rat and want to be able to get into all the cracks and corners with my camera.  Lady Blue is not happy about any of this.  Oh well.

The Tall Texan took Lady Blue and me (he refers to us as 'his Ladies' - it is very dear but also reminds me of how old I am) on a wonderful drive to Donner Lake, back home via Lake Tahoe and Carson city.  What beautiful country.  Will try to get a little fishing in at Donner.  There are so many docks available and if one gets there early some serious fishing is to be had!  The waters in both lakes are blue, blue, blue and then some.

The week end ended with the solstice moon gracing our skies.  Wonderful sight!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

About On-Line Dating: "Lions, Tigers and Bears, 

Oh My!" ~The Wizard of Oz, 1939

" I'm not the girl who always has a boyfriend. I'm the girl who rarely has a boyfriend. " ~ Taylor Swift

I recently signed on to an online dating sight for people over 50. Is it mean spirited   out there! One guy wrote about what the older gals included in the 'must have' list: " must shower daily ", "  No bar flies " sow your oats some place else " ; ( and my personal favorite) "cannot have teeth in a jar".  Wonder why no wrote "must always put the toilet seat down" or is that assumed?  Men include rather prominently 'must be slender' or 'physically fit'
and want women who like to cuddle/kiss/hold hands and so on. Most seem to be wanting a serious relationship
Both men and women seem to be saying they are looking for sex. Some say they are looking for marriage.  Ah, the criteria leaves me out any number of times. Moreover, I am fat.  The dating service descriptor is 'big and beautiful'.   So although I am looking for friends or pen pals I can't seem to get beyond physical attributions. Plus (speaking of attributions) when I am asked a question I answer it. One guy (he's from back East)asked what was on my bucket list; I shared and he wrote that my bucket list wasn't a list it was a dumpster. " MMM. Dumpster? It does have almost 10 items on it. I didn't know Bucket Lists had a fixed limit? Is it like a checking account? If you have four too many items on the list, you are over-drawn? At almost 65 I remain a a goal oriented person.  I am also a fan of Maude (as in Harold and Maude ~ and old cult film) I've always heard the clock ticking with the rapid passage of time. With a light heart but an awareness of built in expiration dates, I want the list completed...even if it is too long ergo a DUMPSTER.

I thought perhaps having someone to write to or chat with would lessen the stress and isolation of care-taking and having only an 85-year-old person with dementia to talk to day in and day out (except week-ends, when the tall Texan comes to visit with the parent-person). Nevertheless, '45 views' and just one 'contact' is telling me otherwise. Perhaps it is better to leave on-line dating to a younger, friskier and a more emotionally flexible group of people.

Were you ever the only person not chosen on a kickball team in grade school....what me fragile?

Who needs this when I await the arrival of my Medicare card in the mail? :)

(may or may not be continued...)


Monday, June 17, 2013

"The dream was always running in front of me.  To catch up, to live in the moment in unison with it, that was the miracle."
~ Anais Nin

A Time to Catch Up:

As Lady Blue and I settled into a new life in Northern Nevada, I did find a few moments to travel with camera in hand.  We live in a small town on the south side of the Virginia Mountain range.  There are fewer wild horses to be seen here.  As some of you may know the 'wild ones' traveled through our yard at the house in Reno.  But this side of the Virginia's one must work harder to catch a glimpse of these intriguing feral creatures. My camera and hopes always at the ready. There are fewer in large part because the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) used contractors with helicopters to chase mustangs out of the canyons and into waiting trucks.  The wild horses were then shipped to a holding facility, where conditions, at least according to concerned animal advocates, were less than desirable.  In the early Spring, I managed to catch two sightings of a few horses and snapped their photos.  There is a hot debate boiling over in the western states, about whether or not we should send these horses to slaughter.  I personally vote an emphatic "NO".

Friday, June 14, 2013

First Hay on the Edge of the Desert:

I have no idea if there is a second and third hay in this part of the world.  One and only first hay should be enough in this parched and thirsty place.  In a world that often feels out of control, wind rows and newly baled hay remind me that there is order and calm somewhere.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"She always says, my lord, that facts are like cows. If

you look them in the face hard enough they generally

 run away."

~ Dorothy Sayer

Every now and again, I am in need of Bovine Therapy.  Then the longing for another time and place passes.  Makes it easier to remember that was then and this is now.

 The above - probably a Hereford and Angus mix.

Belted Galloways

Monday, June 10, 2013

“I have spent weeks in the desert, forgetting to look
 at the moon, he says, as a married man may spend days never looking into the face of his wife. These are     not sins of omission but signs of pre-occuopation.” 

     ~ Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

The Yin and Yang of Desert and Water: Washoe Lake

Sunday's photo were taken as a storm of lightening and thunder spilled over the Sierras into Washoe Valley.

Lightening struck the ground across the Lake.  The dry sagebrush instantly exploded into brush fire. First 
responders seemed to appear out of thin air to contain the burn!

Then drove home through a dust storm and high winds:

(Keep looking .... you just never know what you will see!)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

"When you find your path, you must not be afraid.  You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes.  Disappointment, defeat, and despair are show us the way."
~ Paulo Coelho

Finally: Part Four ~ Three Strikes and You're OUT!

Fort Churchill is located at the intersection 
('intersection' gives the impression of busy 
 traffic - the opposite of this particular location) of Road 2b and Rt 95A.  An hour or so of free time remained of my day off so it was onward to Lake Lahontan.  This was to be my second visit to Lahontan.  My family and I visited this place once before at the end of winter but entered the area from Highway 50.  That was before the trees leafed out and during a dust storm, I expected the appearance of the place to be altered.  

I'm sorry but I can't help but fill in a bit of geology kind of stuff here:
The fascinating part about this corner of arid earth is that it was all once a huge ancient lake - 8,500 square miles of it! It was 900 feet deep.  A lot has changed in the 12,700 years since then!  The ancient lake stretched into what is now California and Southern Oregon.  Now dry land and sagebrush thrive where vast the waters and its occupants once ruled.  Pyramid and Walker Lakes are all that is left of that primordial time.  But I digress,  Lake Lahontan is man-made.  The Carson River was dammed in 1915 and the Dam birthed the recreation area.   The Lake has 69 miles of shoreline so I said to myself...'Self wonder how much of it is drive-able?'  That was the thought that started the to know when to stop.  Strike One!

There are primarily primitive sites for camping.  Although now one or two beach sites are improved.  I prefer the primitive myself...'take out what you brought in' sort of thing.  
I am a fisherman who uses barbless hooks so I feel the need to mention that the fishing (barbless or not) here includes: walleye, catfish and bass.  This land is shared with my personal favorite, wild horses and other critters like bobcats, fox, coyotes, deer, assorted migratory birds and home to Nevada's only known nesting pair of bald eagles.  

OK so much for data.  Galahad (my trusty Subaru) and I wove in and out of the various beaches:

and investigated assorted camp sites:
Most of the vegetation is sagebrush, Cottonwoods and some willow trees.  Beware cottonwoods...these trees are also nicknamed "widow makers"... I would think twice before planting a camper directly under one on a windy day.

I caught a glimpse of a blue house I'd seen during that first winter visit.  Sadly for Galahad and me, I decided to test the trails on the perimeter of the area because that home, in the three months since I saw it las has blossomed into an elaborate fantasy. 
 It sits high above the water on the Hwy 50 side of the Lake.  It is isolated and dramatic.  I imagine that it would be a wonderful place to write poetry and prose, photograph whatever, paint and indulge in a bit of fiddle playing.  I imagine jamming celtic/blues/ country music with friends on that spot.  Friends?  Ironic, in that I don't know more than a soul here.   Then I made my second big mistake of the day!  I had to get closer to that closed-up house. STRIKE TWO! 

Poor Galahad!  Off we went in search of a path to the Blue Palace of Solitude.  It took a bit more wandering but finally we arrived at the other side of the lake.  Only then did I noticed I was driving on a too steep, deep sand path.  Alas, when I should have turned south onto the sand with vegetation I headed north and uphill...why...because I was daydreaming, not charting a course nor was I thinking safety first.  Suddenly I heard the rear passenger wheel spin and felt the car slip.  Instead of doing what I have done a 1000 times before ... let's start with letting some air out of my tires before treading on sand, slow gently to a stop and straighten the dang wheels and ease ever so slowly into reverse. THE FINAL STRIKE THREE! Not one of those things happened, I startled and gunned the gas. The window was opened and the car filled with dust and grit. Panic. The car buried itself in sand on one side with wheels spinning in the air on the other side.   GOOD GRIEF...have I learned nothing in 64.9 years?  I finally pulled myself together and pulled myself out of the vehicle. The car was up to it's axle in sand and leaning precariously to the right side.  It was 92 degrees out and we were going no where. Galahad had taken a 100' slide and buried one side in the sand. I sat on the in the sand on the passenger side  and mumbled a number of nasty words before stretching out on said sand and staring at the sky. I said aloud, to any insect or bird that would listen, 'what in the hell am I going to do'?  Nothing to do but a lot of shoveling.  There is nothing like sweating and getting a sunburn to ease the pain of stupidity. "YOU'RE OUT"! 

 At least the car shifted to a slightly more upright position.  Finally broke down and called a young friend for help. Had to fight off the fury of tears that wanted to tell my face how inept I'd been.  To shovel out would have meant shoveling back about 100 feet.  Oh holy cow!  Just as my friend was heading in my direction a Park Ranger drove up in his pick-up,  skittered over my sandy trap and said in the most polite voice he could muster "Good afternoon Ma'am, how did you get into this mess?".  To which I replied with an enthusiastic nonsequitar "Oh my God, I could kiss the ground you walk on".  He smiled kindly down at me (as anyone would to a batty old woman stuck in sand in the middle of no where) and stated "Let's get us a truck with a winch up here."  I called home and told my tall Texan friend to turn around and go home (note to self - that young person offered to help without hesitation - pay that forward WR), two four wheeled rescuers had arrived.  It took about 45 minutes with two trucks and a winch to pull Galahad out of the pit I put him in and I managed to get stuck one more time when turning the vehicle around ... this time on vegetation and sand.  As the tires were not nearly as stuck the second rescue had us out in minutes.  One ranger, whose wife it turns out was expecting their second child at any time, told me his wife wanted a Subaru...I assured him today's activity was not the fault of the car.  Once again a sweet, patient smile.   Duh, like he didn't know that! When I get stupid it usally lasts a while!  Kind of like intoxication but different.  I was informed that I was about the 1000th person they has rescued from the sand so far in 2013.  Cripes, do we share a defective gene? I filled out a form at the ranger station to thank them for their professionalism and rescue (at no time did these men laugh out loud or even smirk).  And then drove the 'drive of shame' home...repeating over and over "NEVER take your eyes off the road and stay calm no matter what!". 

I did not take a photo of the car up to is axle in sand...I was too embarrassed...'pride goeth before the fall'.

Thank you Rangers! dd And thank you Tall Texan!  



Wednesday, June 5, 2013

"I think that the Internet - and I do love the free flow of ideas on the 'Net - is like the wild west of the information world."
Part 3:
Speaking of the wild west, this past Sunday my journey on Road 2b brought me to what remains of Fort Churchill.  The Fort is part of a 200 acre site that includes camping (20 spaces), hiking trails, bird watching,  and a group area.   The remains of the Fort are in decay.  Built in 1861 it served as military base for 9 years when it was abandoned (hmmm, 'abandoned' does seem to be a theme here) .   The cemetery that sits in front of the Fort contains only the remains of the Buckland family (suppliers to the Fort).  The remains of others who died and were buried at Ft. Churchill were moved to Carson City some years back.

The Fort's history is linked to the fear of white settlers of Native Americans. Two white men up at Pyramid Lake kidnapped two Paiute girls and refused to give then back.  The Indians killed them.  Hmm, seems about right to me but this is now ~ then white folks panicked thinking an Indian reprisal was on its way. That rumor spread and grew that the tribe was amassing and planned to massacre other whites.  The Fort was built in haste and men assigned to protect the settlers. Reinforcements came in from California and attacked the Paiute, forcing the Native Americans to retreat.  Such was life in the Wild West - manifest destiny at work.

 In addition to fighting the Tribes, the Fort was also a stop over for the Pony Express and a station for the Overland Telegraph.

On a more gentle non-violent note, this segment of the Carson River valley makes for great birding.  My trusty binoculars and I saw a variety of birds there including: egrets, a loggerhead shrike (a first sighting for me), a golden eagle, herons, hawks and wood ducks.  Next time I'll bring a tripod, a picnic, a patient friend and lots of bottled water as it is hot and dry from end of May through September.  And lest I forget ~ bring a fishing pole!

(to be continued one more time)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

"Art is never finished, only abandoned."  ~ Leonardo da Vinci

Part 2:

During this past Sunday's drive, I passed several closed buildings and one small home that was plastered with keep out signs.  I wonder about both groups but decided not to photograph the house warning me to stay's can be violating.  The property, in yesterday's post, with empty
cattle pens also had all the abandoned/empty buildings.  Are these fences and buildings closed forever?  Or are they used seasonally.  There is something sad about boarded and abandoned building...most especially in a place where there are no visible people or critters - no one to bear witness to the history of the place.  Does anyone come back and then?  Is there an annual hustle, bustle, sweat and grime that goes with farming?  Are animals bellowing in protest at being forced in from the "open range" or is that all a thing of the past? Is there dust and dirt in the air from activity or is the desert wind the only rearranger of earth here?  Perhaps a look-see in the fall will reveal life afoot something other than wind, water, sage brush, trees and birds and thier much needed insects using the space.

Finally because my thought sometimes scoot along the edge of uncomfortable and well ~ weird....I could not help but wonder how many desert members of the reptile (rattle snakes), insect (scorpions) and spider (black widows and tarantulas) families crept into these places while the the humans occupied themselves else where?  My excuse for not peaking inside the door way...I was not wearing boots.

Water or grain or something else all together?

(to be continued....)

Monday, June 3, 2013

“Water, water, water....There is no shortage of water in the desert but exactly the right amount , a perfect ratio of water to rock, water to sand, insuring that wide free open, generous spacing among plants and animals, homes and towns and cities, which makes the arid West so different from any other part of the nation. There is no lack of water here unless you try to establish a city where no city should be.” 
 Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness

I think these signs should have a post-script - "those with bad backs and/or weak bladders should stick to the main road!".   

Part One: day off.  Four hours to explore the nooks and crannies of this part of the desert.   I drove my trusty little Subaru across Hwy 50 ("The Loneliest Highway in American") onto a short paved road that quickly becomes rutted and washboard dirt road heading toward the North East.  The little road, it turns out, follows the Carson River.  Much of the land is posted.  The river valley is green, shady and pleasant in stark contrast to the barren mountain range that stand on either side of the road.  

This is open range land or so the signs proclaim but I did not see a single head of cattle or wild horse on said open land.    Perhaps they took to heart the "Keep Out" signs.

This little trip took me to the remains of Fort Churchill and then onward to Lahontan Recreation area.  A few photos of the the first part of the trip (Highway 50 to Rt 2b to Fort Churchill).  It was reminder that if the balance is maintained...there is enough water for life in the desert.

Then just beyond these restful places is an area that contains larger fenced areas that appear to be used for cattle round-up.  No people nor cattle found there on Sunday...

The desert is quick to reclaim what is not watered:

To be continued...